Singaporean ISIS supporter placed under restrictions

An image grab taken on Oct 2, 2013, from a video uploaded on YouTube on July 8, 2012, of the spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Mohammad al-Adnani al-Shami, speaking next to an Islamist flag at an undisclosed location.
An image grab taken on Oct 2, 2013, from a video uploaded on YouTube on July 8, 2012, of the spokesman for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Mohammad al-Adnani al-Shami, speaking next to an Islamist flag at an undisclosed location. PHOTO: AFP

A 33-year-old Singaporean supporter of terror group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was arrested here under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in August, the Ministry of Home Affairs said yesterday.

Asrul Alias, a technician, has been placed under a two-year Restriction Order - which curtails his movements and activities - after investigations, the ministry said.

It added in a statement that Asrul will undergo religious counselling while under the Restriction Order.

The ministry said Asrul started reading online material on the conflict in Syria in 2014. He began viewing radical preachers' online sermons and videos of ISIS fighters.

He also shared pro-ISIS propaganda on social media and spoke up against criticisms of ISIS that he encountered online.

Asrul stopped posting pro-ISIS material online after heeding the warnings of a family member and a close friend some time last year and early this year, the ministry added.

But he remained supportive of ISIS and continued to consume the terror group's propaganda online.

"As he was not an imminent security threat, he was not detained but given a Restriction Order under the ISA," the ministry said.

It added that evidence obtained during investigations is used to determine the threat an individual poses, and many who were investigated in the past were not detained but placed under supervision or given counselling.

A person who is under a Restriction Order cannot change his residence or employment, or travel out of Singapore, without the approval of the authorities.

The ministry also announced that Singaporean Mohammad Razif Yahya, 28, was released conditionally from detention under a Suspension Direction this month after it "assessed that he no longer posed a security threat that required him to be placed in preventive detention".

He had been detained in August last year for voluntarily fighting in Yemen after he began studying at a religious institution there in 2010.

The ministry said the decision to release a detainee is based on his progress in rehabilitation, and the assessments of psychologists, Internal Security Department case officers, detention centre wardens and religious counsellors.

The ministry may revoke a Suspension Direction and re-detain the individual if he does not comply with certain conditions, such as prohibition from associating with militant or terrorist groups, it added.

Also, two Bangladeshi men detained in April this year were repatriated home last month after investigations were completed.

Sohag Ibrahim, 28, and Islam Shariful, 27, were part of a group of eight Bangladeshi nationals who were detained for their involvement in a group they named the Islamic State in Bangladesh.

In July and August, the remaining six Bangladeshi men were jailed for financing terrorism and received sentences of between two and five years' imprisonment. They had given funds to buy firearms for the group's terror plans in Bangladesh.

Since 2002, more than 80 people have been detained for terrorism-related activities. There are currently 17 people detained, two on Suspension Directions and 25 on Restriction Orders under the ISA.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2016, with the headline 'S'porean ISIS supporter placed under restrictions'. Print Edition | Subscribe